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Ontario Launches Comprehensive Social Assistance Review

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Ontario Launches Comprehensive Social Assistance Review

The Hon. Frances Lankin, P.C., Dr. Munir Sheikh To Lead Commission

Ontario is launching the largest review of social assistance programs in over 20 years.

The review will examine social assistance and its relationship with other federal, provincial and municipal income security programs to gain a better understanding of how these programs, working together, can provide better outcomes for people. The review is the first step in developing a concrete action plan that will make social assistance:

  • more effective at getting people into jobs by connecting them with the right education and training opportunities, while providing security for those who cannot work
  • easier to understand
  • work better with other federal, provincial and municipal income security programs, such as Employment Insurance, and
  • financially sustainable.

Ontario has appointed The Honourable Frances Lankin, P.C., United Way Toronto's past President and CEO, and Dr. Munir Sheikh, Canada's former Chief Statistician, as commissioners. The review will begin January 2011 and finish in June 2012.

Going forward, the Special Diet Allowance will also be revised to make it compliant with the recent Order of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and more accountable to taxpayers. The program, along with other existing social assistance benefits, will be considered within the context of the Social Assistance Review.

Today's announcement is an important part of the Open Ontario plan to break the cycle of poverty.

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“This review is about making the system work better for everyone - clients and taxpayers. Our ultimate goal is to empower low-income Ontarians, including social assistance recipients, to break out of the cycle of poverty.”

Madeleine Meilleur

Minister of Community and Social Services

“This review demonstrates Ontario's continued commitment to reducing barriers and increasing opportunities for low-income individuals. Our Poverty Reduction Strategy is giving people the ability to find a pathway out of poverty. I look forward to hearing the commission's recommendations.”

Laurel Broten

Minister of Children and Youth Services

“In a rapidly changing economy, people need the right supports to get through difficult times. The social assistance system we have now is not doing the job we want. The broad scope of this review will get us where we need to go to really extend opportunity to everyone.”

Gail Nyberg

Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank and former Chair of the Social Assistance Review Advisory Council

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